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Effects to Their Own Society

Discrimination among religions


Malaysia prides itself in being one of the most multicultural countries in the world.
A big majority of Asians have chosen to migrate here in hopes of a better life. These
include Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Indonesians, and many more. Vinay Lal explains
how Malaysias multiculturalism is different from that of the US. He mentions that unlike
in America, where majority of people are monolingual, majority of Malaysias citizens,
regardless of social status, know at least two to three languages (Lal, 2006, p. 3764).
This shows that Malaysia is in some way more diverse in the sense that it doesnt
impose a certain culture to immigrants. Despite this, the country still deals with
discrimination, specifically among the different religions.
It is stated in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia that the religion of the state is
Islam. It is also stated that immigrants in the country are free to practice their own faiths
(qtd. in Lal, 2006, p.3765). This part of their constitution proves that there should be
religious freedom in Malaysia. Lal states a few examples of discrimination experienced
by Indians in the country. One case states that the government declared that a dead
man, a supposed hero in the country, converted to Islam before he died. His family, on
the other hand were not aware of any conversion. Another case he mentions involves
the tearing down of Hindu temples. According to the Malaysian authorities, these
buildings were illegal (Lal, 2006, p. 3765).
According to Raymond L.M. Lee, there is a certain sense of paranoia coming
from the Malaysian government. In the past there have been multiple cases of
discriminations against Christians. Lee states that the government suspected the
Christian immigrants of converting Muslims to their faith (Lee, 1988, p. 404). This shows
just how wary the government is when it comes to people of different faith. Aside from
this, non-Muslims feel threatened by the discrimination shown against them that they live

in fear of what the Malaysian government may do to attack their faith (Lee, 1988, p.
403).
Despite claims that Malaysia is for religious freedom, the actions against other
religions aside from Islam seem to prove otherwise. It is quite evident in the examples
previously stated that the Malaysian government tends to let their religion control the
state. Their religious beliefs and morals makes its way into their laws and their political
decisions. This then tends to only benefit those of Islamic faith and neglects the rest of
the non-Muslim population.

Islamization being heightened in the country

Islam, being the state religion of Malaysia, is rapidly taking over their society.
According to Jason P. Abbott and Sophie Gregorios-Pippas, Islam has been so ingrained
into the society that almost no sector of Malaysian society has escaped the growing
influence of Islam upon the socioeconomic and political make-up of the country (2010,
p. 135). As defined in the article, Islamization is the intensification of Islamic influence on
social, cultural, economic and political relations (Abbott and Gregorios-Pippas, 2010, p.
136). Some evidence of the growing Islamization in the country is the way people dress.
It is very rare to see people, especially women, wearing Western clothing. A large
majority of them wear religious garb such as the tundang veil. There has also been the
emergence of Islamic institutions such as banks and universities that specifically cater to
Muslims (Abbott and Gregorios-Pippas, 2010, p. 136).
The main problem of the Islamization of Malaysia is the blurring of the lines
between matters of state and matters of religion. They have two courts, the High Courts,
which deals with more legal matters, and the Shariah courts, which deals with the divine
law of Islam. The problem here is that some matters that should be handled by the High

Courts often gets discussed under Shariah courts and according to the law, the High
Courts have no jurisdiction to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Shariah courts
(Abbott and Gregorios-Pippas, 2010, p. 136).The Shariah courts are now at equal
footing with the High courts in the sense that they have an equal amount of power in the
society (Horowitz qtd. in Abbott and Gregorios-Pippas, 2010, p. 136).
One supposed cause of the Islamization of Malaysia is the emergence of the
Dakwah movement (Abbott and Gregorios-Pippas, 2010, p. 137). This was basically a
movement to help deepen their faith. According to Abbott and Gregorios-Pippas,
Dakwah can be regarded as being as old as Islam itself (2010, p. 137). According to
Abu Bakar, this was the re-education in Islam (qtd. in Abbott and Gregorios-Pippas,
2010, p. 138). This was in a way bringing the people back to the faith. It was a way for
them to bring back the traditional values of Islam and re-integrate it into the society. This
was mainly targeted towards the middle to upper classes in their society, which included
the intellectuals. Daniel Regan explains the emergence of a civil religion (Regan, 1976,
p. 96). According to Robert Bellah, this is when a religion goes beyond the faith in the
sense that it starts to integrate itself into the society (1967). Eventually, it will find its way
into the government and into politics and ultimately make its way into education. The
Malaysian highly prioritized education in the country. Regan states that, policy-makers
and citizens alike expect education to serve an integrative as well as economic function
(1976, p. 98). He states that the educated people will be the carriers of ideas (ibid. p.
97). Therefore, if a civil religion is being integrated into the education system, then
these intellectuals become the carriers of civil religion. The rest of the society will just
follow along with their ideas as it spreads. This could point to how the re-integration of
Islam in the society spread throughout the whole country.
Heightened Islamization in Malaysia then leads to negligence of other religions,
which further proves how their law does not match up with the actions they have taken in

the country. It creates an elitist group that seems to be against the religions of their
immigrants. It ultimately defeats the purpose of having an Article regarding religious
freedom when they dont really put it into effect.

1Malaysia as a concept being used to promote unity among people

Discrimination among religions have been an issue in Malaysia even until


today. This problem constantly causes disunity among Malaysians because of the
different beliefs and religions upheld by the different races in the country. Because of
this, the Malaysian government formed 1Malaysia. This program was officially
introduced to the citizens by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Hj
Abd Razak last 16th of September during the year 2010. This was the theme of
independence in 2009, having the values of acceptance, perseverance, humility, loyalty,
etc. 1Malaysia was designed to promote national unity despite the differences created
by various races found in Malaysia. It aims to have a country bonded as one creating a
common entity to overlook all the racial problems Malaysia was experiencing. This was
also one viable solution made by the Malaysian government to address the issue of
religion. Upon introducing 1Malaysia, a lot of controversies regarding this program have
been remarked, mostly from the Barisan Nasional-linked racial and religious extremist
groups. For one, the Barisan Nasional government described 1Malaysia as being antiMalay, going against the values and principles important to the Islamic religion and a
program which aims to remove the monarchy system which is an an ideology of
republicanism. Also, it was labeled as something that aims to remove Islam in exchange
of a Christian state as the official religion of the federation. The concept soon failed and
was then clear that 1Malaysia, originally made to unite the multiracial country, was then
seen as merely a political branding which did not give any concrete solution to the

problems at all. 1Malaysia was subsequently used for commercialized purposes only.
Even the very own government officials did not conform to the concept and even
preached racism at some point. This action then drew more attention to violence and
disunity among the people, which was exactly what the concept 1Malaysia was trying to
fight against for. The governments actions that show otherwise raised many concerns
among the people resulting to hatred towards the leaders and suspicion. The Malaysian
community seemed to even be less united upon seeing the clear differences of the races
due to the problems that arose upon introducing the 1Malaysia concept. Despite the said
efforts made by the Malaysian government, it is clearly seen that the country is still
divided, almost as if its the governments intention in the first place. Isnt it that the more
the people are divided, the longer those in power can stay? Was 1Malaysia really a
concrete plan built to solve a problem or to just cover the wound to make the
government look good?